Popular Mechanics

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Popular Mechanics
Popular Mechanics logo.svg
Popular Mechanics Cover Vol 1 Issue 1 11 January 1902.jpg
Popular Mechanics first cover (January 11, 1902)
Categories Automotive, DIY, Science, Technology
FrequencySix per year
Total circulation
(2012)
1,208,642 [1]
First issueJanuary 11, 1902;119 years ago (1902-01-11)
Company Hearst
CountryUnited States
Based inNew York City, New York
LanguageEnglish, Russian
Website www.popularmechanics.com OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
ISSN 0032-4558

Popular Mechanics (sometimes PM or PopMech) is a magazine of popular science and technology, featuring automotive, home, outdoor, electronics, science, do-it-yourself, and technology topics. Military topics, aviation and transportation of all types, space, tools and gadgets are commonly featured. [2]

Contents

It was founded in 1902 by Henry Haven Windsor, who was the editor and—as owner of the Popular Mechanics Company—the publisher. For decades, the tagline of the monthly magazine was "Written so you can understand it." In 1958, PM was purchased by the Hearst Corporation, now Hearst Communications. [3]

In 2013, the US edition changed from twelve to ten issues per year, and in 2014 the tagline was changed to "How your world works." [4] The magazine added a podcast in recent years, including regular features Most Useful Podcast Ever and How Your World Works. [5]

History

Cover of April 1924 issue, 25 cents ($3.80 in 2019) PopularMechanicsApril1924.png
Cover of April 1924 issue, 25 cents ($3.80 in 2019)

Popular Mechanics was founded in Chicago by Henry Haven Windsor, with the first issue dated January 11, 1902. His concept was that it would explain "the way the world works" in plain language, with photos and illustrations to aid comprehension. [3] For decades, its tagline was "Written so you can understand it." [6] The magazine was a weekly until September 1902, when it became a monthly. The Popular Mechanics Company was owned by the Windsor family and printed in Chicago until the Hearst Corporation purchased the magazine in 1958. In 1962, the editorial offices moved to New York City. [7]

From the first issue, the magazine featured a large illustration of a technological subject, a look that evolved into the magazine's characteristic full-page, full-color illustration and a small 6.5" x 9.5" trim size beginning with the July, 1911 issue. It maintained the small format until 1975 when it switched the larger standard trim size. Popular Science adopted full-color cover illustrations in 1915, and the look was widely imitated by later technology magazines. [8]

Several international editions were introduced after World War II, starting with a French edition, followed by Spanish in 1947, and Swedish and Danish in 1949. In 2002, the print magazine was being published in English, Chinese, and Spanish and distributed worldwide. [9] South African [10] and Russian editions were introduced that same year.

Notable articles have been contributed by notable people including Guglielmo Marconi, Thomas Edison, Jules Verne, Barney Oldfield, Knute Rockne, Winston Churchill, Charles Kettering, Tom Wolfe and Buzz Aldrin, as well as some US presidents including Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. Comedian and car expert Jay Leno had a regular column, Jay Leno's Garage, starting in March, 1999. [11]


Editors

Editors* [12]
NameDates
Henry Haven WindsorJan 1902 - Jun 1924
Henry Haven Windsor JrJul 1924 - Dec 1958
Roderick GrantJan 1959 - Dec 1960
Clifford HicksJan 1961 - Sep 1962
Don DinwiddieOct 1962 - Sep 1965
Robert CrosleyJul 1966 - Dec 1971
Jim ListonJan 1972 - Dec 1974
John LinkletterJan 1975 - Jun 1985
Joe Oldham [13] Aug 1985 - Sep 2004
Jim Meigs [14] Oct 2004 - April 2014
Ryan D'AgostinoMay 2014 - March 2019
Alexander GeorgeMarch 2019 - April 2021
NoneApril 2021 - Present

*Note that in general, dates are the inclusive issues for which an editor was responsible. For decades, the lead time to go from submission to print was three months, so some of the dates might not correspond exactly with employment dates. As the Popular Mechanics web site has become more dominant and the importance of print issues has declined, editorial changes have more immediate impact.

Awards

Criticisms

In June 2020, Popular Mechanics faced widespread criticism for an article that provided detailed instructions on how to vandalize monuments. [17]

In early December 2020, Popular Mechanics published an article titled "Leaked Government Photo Shows ‘Motionless, Cube-Shaped’ UFO." [18] In late December, paranormal claims investigator and fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), Kenny Biddle, investigated the claim in Skeptical Inquirer. Biddle reported that both he and fellow investigator Mick West, also a CSI fellow, easily explained the supposed UFO as a mylar balloon, with Biddle even claiming to have identified the design as a Batman balloon. Biddle, peviously a PopMech fan, wrote in his Popular Misinformation article: [19]

After re-reading the entire Popular Mechanics article, I felt a sense of extreme disappointment with the magazine. It published an article filled with conspiracy theory–like content, and the author failed to spend any time independently verifying the information presented... this balloon-UFO article served the readers a lot of uncritical nonsense rather than any quality information. I am terribly disappointed in the magazine and have no desire to pick up another issue. [19]

Further reading

Related Research Articles

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